According to the researchers from Hiddush – Freedom of Religion for Israel, this represents a significant increase in support, particularly among the ultra-Orthodox population, up from 40% last year to 56% in this year’s Index. Further, among those who voted for the ultra-Orthodox parties, support for religious freedom has increased from 40% to 65%.
This is significant for a country, that according to an ongoing study by the Pew Research Center, has high government restrictions on religion, and a relatively high level of social hostilities involving religion (see chart at end).
However, they say, "this is not the case, and there are concentrations of opposition. 44% of the ultra-Orthodox and 27% of the Zionist Orthodox populations are opposed to freedom of religion and conscience in Israel. 21% of Likud voters and 24% of Jewish Home voters also oppose freedom of religion and conscience. Further, 23% of those who identify as right-leaning believe that Israel should not allow freedom of religion and conscience, compared to 8% of those who identify as centrists and 2% of left-leaning Israeli Jews."
Other Findings from the Survey
The researchers "believe that a major reason for the lower level of support for the separation of religion and state in Israel, is the perception that such separation means separation between Judaism and the State of Israel. They may be thinking of the full separation of religion and state enforced in France and the USA, which would strip Israel of its Jewish characteristics, including such widely acceptable norms as Bible study in schools, state subsidies for religious services on par with culture and sports, and kashrut standards and Shabbat observances in public institutions."
The survey finds that 89% of secular Jews support the separation of religion and state in Israel, as do 83% of immigrants and 64% (nearly two-thirds) of the non-Haredim. 15% of the ultra-Orthodox public support the separation of religion and state, but 85% of ultra-Orthodox Jews and 80% of Zionist Orthodox Jews oppose it. 82% of Zionist Camp voters and 84% of Yesh Atid voters expressed their support, but 57% of Likud voters and 54% of Kulanu voters are opposed to separation of religion and state. The researchers note that the "point stressed above is clearly at play when it comes to Kulanu voters, 95% of whom support freedom of religion and conscience! 96% of left-leaning voters are in support, as opposed to 68% of right-leaning voters who oppose it."